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Practical Mining: Historical Archaeology and Practice among Island Mountain's Chinese Gold Miners
AdvisorWhite, Carolyn L.
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This thesis looks at an archaeological assemblage from a domestic feature on the Island Mountain site in northeastern Nevada. The site was a Chinese mining settlement active in the late 1800s until the turn of the century. While the community declined after the mining economy went bust, Chinese individuals resided there through the early Exclusion Era (1882–1943). Chinese community members found a degree of belonging in Island Mountain, at a time when naturalized citizenship was denied to Chinese people in the United States. The assemblage represents the minimalistic material culture miners relied on to inhabit the region. A practice theory informed approach looks to artifacts as characteristic of strategies miners used to find success in an industry where they became increasingly excluded. Island Mountain was an intermediary place where miners possessed greater volition than elsewhere in the American West, yet still contended with racial hierarchies of the era.